Meet Anna. She’s a spunky, fun-loving, people-serving, horse-riding, music-singing, camp-going, red-headed joy from Zanesville, OH (yes, where the zoo animals escaped, but that’s beside the point). For Anna, fun was like an occupation, not an occurrence. Yet, God has claimed Anna’s clamoring around for pleasure and instead made her a pleasure to be around. Her desire is to love and serve others the way she has been loved and served by her Savior. Here’s her story:
Anna remembers camping trips, music jams, and sibling scuffles filling up her childhood; and of course, HORSES. Anna loves horses. In fact, they were her life when she was little. “I didn’t think I needed anything else,” Anna recalls. Of course, Anna soon realized there was more to life than horses. One instrumental man in Anna’s life was her grandfather. Anna remembers her grandfather was the type of man “everybody knew” because of his knack for serving. Service was to him what fun was to Anna. “He taught me how to help people, not just be around people.”
With her grandfather’s inspiration, Anna was motivated to help people and originally wanted to work with juvenile delinquents. “I thought I could win people over because of being funny or just befriending people… I thought I would be an awesome counselor because I could convince people to do anything.” Anna soon realized manipulation wasn’t going to get her very far.
Through a series of circumstances, Anna returned home after only one year in college. While God had provided financially for her second semester, He didn’t provide financially for her to continue after that. “I prayed and waited and prayed….and nothing happened. It was God telling me by my circumstances that I couldn’t stay there.” As any college-turned-home-bound person would be, Anna was devastated. She returned home feeling hopeless, not understanding why God would send her back home instead of allowing her to finish her college degree. “God, what do you want me to do?” Anna inquired.
During this time, Anna’s mom attempted to help Anna by introducing her to NANC certification. She bought Anna a CD of Faith Church’s Biblical Counseling series. While listening to this CD, Anna heard Pastor Viars talk about Vision of Hope. “That’s exactly what I want to do!” Anna exclaimed. Shortly thereafter, she started the application process. “I wanted somewhere that I could serve God everyday… and see what it’s like to sacrificially love others…” In less than two months, Anna completed the application process and joined the VOH intern team!
As an intern, what did Anna learn? One lesson is “loving vs. loving well.” It’s the difference between giving and generosity; the difference between being friendly and befriending; the difference between doing and serving. “That’s my aim, that’s my focus: to love people well. At church, in the apartment, a stranger…. what’s it going to hurt if I say ‘Hey, how’s your day?’ If they reject me, it just hurts my pride, and that doesn’t matter anyway.”
In addition to lessons, Anna has also experienced challenges in the internship. For her, one of the biggest challenges was confronting people. “I was so afraid of the residents hating me that I didn’t want to go back on shift.” Interestingly, it wasn’t confrontation of the residents that was most challenging for Anna; it was confrontation of her peers: the other interns. Even in confrontation, Anna has learned to rely on Christ as the source of instruction and to confront in love, so others would look more like Christ because of the confrontation.
There are many things about the internship that Anna intends to take with her in life. One such thing is her identify in Christ. “There’s no greater peace in my heart then that.” Though her circumstances changed, people blew up in her face, and life consisted of instability; Anna could turn to Christ. “[Things failing me] is what pushed me to have my identify in Christ. I didn’t realize how uncomfortable it is to have my identity in something other than Christ.”
If you are interested in the internship program, but are worried it’s going to change you, Anna can relate! Though Anna was hesitant about the change at first, she realized and began to preach to herself this anthem: “you can’t go wrong changing into Christ; and He’ll protect you. Quit being so comfortable with where you’re at right now and let God mold and change you.”
In the future, Anna intends to continue practicing submission to God and His will for her life. “I want to be willing to do what He asks, putting it above what I want to do, what would be fun for me. I just don’t know where.”
One passage of Scripture Anna has meditated on throughout her internship is Phil. 4:11-13, which says,
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”
“With every phase God has me in, cause I feel like it’s been a roller coaster, I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me, and that’s all I need.”